The great debate today is whether there is a "supernatural gospel" or if the gospel is to be understood in naturalistic ways....and some believe there is a third way of reconciling the two, using science to investigate people and cultures. While one seeks to restore the image of God within man by freeing man from religion and helping him be "more human", the other seeks the "Christian Gospel" as the meta-narrative for the world at large. One affirms an exclusivist claim, while the other allows a plurality of views and voices.
Humans are social beings, which means that we understand and address issues, questions and understandings about life within social contexts. History is built by these social interactions. It is no less true of those who lived in biblical times. In fact, more so, as they were an oral and tribal culture.
Conservative evangleicals believe that there is something "supernatural"about the "gospel" and call it the "holy spirit". While humans do respond to messages that inspire the human heart, there is nothing "supernatural" about this, as a political message can inspire and motivate as much as a sermon.
Humans create their meanings and understand their lives by formulating "stories" that identify their "communities". This is a postmodern paradigm and leaves out the science of understanding the "why" and "how" of individual humans.
Moral development of the individual and society has been understood to be furtherd within "communities", but is not the highest attainment of the individual. The individual has to come to an individuality or "self" identification and must be allowed the freedom of choice beyond communities of "faith". Reason develops to a point of choice of commitment that identifies the person with the values they hold most dearly.
While reason and commitment is the epitome of moral and intellectual development, faith development is recognized in symbolic forms or ways. "Faith communities" are conventional level of moral develpment, where "moral models" are held to be the epitome of "community formation" and identification. Whereas, a more advanced faith development allows for diversity of viewpoints, acknowledging the fallability of all absolute claims to the transcendent.
I find that supernaturalistic claims to a faith without any development of reason to be not only misguided, but dangerous for the individual and communities. These are cults, which are bent on radicalizing their understanding without balancing thier faith with rationale.
America has allowed the freedom of conscience in regards to religion. The problem for America today is the dissolution of the family, where the child is taught the values, either directly or indirectly, of character. Children have little guidance or mentoring because of absentee parents, and the culture, as a whole has left the values that traditon maintains.
So, the Great Debate is settled in my mind. We are human and we must become "more human" by admitting our needs, fallabilities, and faults. These can only be rectified within a culture that allows for socialbility and not measured by success.
Unfortunatley, our culture has suffered due to the American Dream and its pursuit. This has damaged marriages, families, and individuals because we have sought fame and fortune at the expense of responsibility and commitment. Our moral climate is at an all time low because of it. And the stories we tell in America today are stories about "moral demise" and not "moral success".
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